Letters Live at Freemasons’ Hall
“Letters are like time bombs waiting to be set off by the reader.”
It’s easy to forget that Londoners are perhaps the most culturally spoilt people on earth. We are presented with countless exhibitions, shows and gigs and to be honest we let most of them pass us by. Such is our passive attitude to the endless culture that surrounds us that it takes something truly special and unique to really capture our attention. One such example is Letters Live, a title so unassuming that you would be forgiven for looking straight past it. However, it is without a doubt one of the most exceptional and inspiring events of our cultural calendar.
Based around a simple premise you’d think someone would have thought of before, Letters Live allows the audience to be taken into the mind of the great and the good, often at their most tender and heartfelt moments. Brought to life by stars of the screen and stage, it serves as a careful warning to society of what we stand to lose through technology.
As we were reminded early in the evening, letters transcend mere communication, and intrinsically carry emotions that simply cannot be replicated through email or text. A highlight was Henry Miller’s letter to his lover Anais Nin, masterfully read by Nick Moran. The phrase “I came away with pieces of you sticking to me” will live long in the memory of those present, not purely because of the beauty of the prose, but because just for a moment, they understood the intense feeling and sadness felt by Miller towards his lost lover.
Letters need not only be about love however, and as Matt Berry and Jude Law dutifully reminded us, they can be sources of great humour as well. Benedict Cumberbatch’s rendition of DO, the superb letter written by Sol Lewitt to his friend Eva Hasse, was perhaps the comedic high point of the evening, and proved to the audience exactly why Cumberbatch is the hottest act in town. Gravitas was used only when it was needed.
Perhaps the most telling letter of all, Dear People of Europe, was performed by Hassan Akan, himself a refugee. “This will put the history of the 21st century to shame,” he said, and the audience believed him. It proved that not every great letter has to come from the mind of a literary great. Emotion resides within everyone, and there is no better medium than a letter to portray them.
Touching, moving and funny in equal measure, Letters Live is a stark lesson on the power of our oldest form of communication. It is, in one word, extraordinary.
For further information about Letters Live and future events visit here.
Watch a snapshot of Letters Live here: